Racing returns to Meydan Racecourse on Thursday evening with a valuable seven race card worth AED 1,155,000, sponsored by Pillar Partners Emirates Airline.
The Highlight of the evening is the valuable Emirates Airline 2000m handicap for which 14 have been declared, including a sizeable six prepared by Champion Trainer, Doug Watson.
The American, who leads Red Stables, has won the equivalent race in each of the last two seasons with Etijaah for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Watson saddles three for the UAE’s perennial leading owner of Thoroughbreds whose retained jockey, Jim Crowley, elects to partner Nathr.
Also sporting Sheikh Hamdan’s world famous blue and white are Mutamakkin and Jeeraan, the mounts of Fernando Jara and Tom Marquand respectively.
Two of Watson’s other runners are both owned by EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club).
Stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, rides Mizbah for them, with apprentice Josh Quinn aboard the same owner’s Grand Argentier. Sam Hitchcott, like Dobbs based at Red Stables, rides Storm Belt who completes the Watson sextet.
“We just happen to have several horses for whom this race appears the ideal place to get their season started,” explained Watson.
“We have been happy with all six in their work at home and they should run well but will improve for the outing.
“Storm Belt could have been drawn better so, if forced to nominate our best chance, I would probably side with Mizbah but, hopefully, they will all be competitive in an open heat.”
There may be 14 runners but only five individual trainers are actually saddling runners in the race with Satish Seemar the only handler with a single runner.
He relies on Dawwass, the mount of stable jockey, Richard Mullen and a maiden after just four starts last season, this will be his first outing at Meydan.
Only a three-year-old, he looks an interesting prospect in his second season and assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar, said: “He has only had four starts and we hope has improved over the summer.
“We think this distance will really suit him and we hope he will run well in what looks a very competitive race.”
Ahmad bin Harmash, with three, Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and Salem bin Ghadayer, with a pair apiece complete the roll call of trainers represented in the feature. Both Al Rayhi and Ghadayer saddled Jebel Ali doubles last Friday.
Of his trio, Bin Harmash said: “All three are fit and well. Snow Squall has not actually run on the dirt at Meydan so we will see how he goes but we think he is probably a turf horse.
“We know conditions suit Brabbham and Handsome Man was second in this race last year. Hopefully he can go one better.”
The name of Godolphin handler Saeed bin Suroor does not normally appear on the Meydan racecard until January and the Dubai World Cup Carnival but he has three runners on Thursday.
He saddles Desert Mountain, the only two-year-old in a 1400m maiden and the mount of Antonio Fresu with Pat Cosgrave partnering his other two runners, Naaeebb and Dowayla who both take their chance in separate 1600m handicaps.
The meeting opens with a 1200m maiden, restricted to two-year-olds from the northern hemisphere and three-year-olds from the southern hemisphere.
Eleven have been declared, all making their racecourse debuts with connections hoping to unearth potential UAE Classic prospects for 2018.
Among the more interesting contenders would appear to be Skyrider, a recent trial winner and representing the EERC, Watson and Dobbs troika.
From three Seemar runners, Champion Jockey Mullen partners One Season and this looks a race worth paying close attention to with regards to the future.